Wednesday, September 7, 2016
On the Ripple Desk - Featuring The Valery Trails, Monocluster, and Radio Moscow
The third album from American/Aussie trio, The Valery Trails, finds the band in fine form, mining their familiar path of psychedelic pop. Singer/songwriter Andrew Bower continues to grow and evolve, while chiseling his muse into perfect nuggets of jangly guitar perfection. From the pounding, addictive verses of "OK", through the swirling, plaintive "Cordless" all the way through the earnest longing of "Change My World" Bower has crafted a collection of immediate and memorable songs. With brother Sean on bass, and the tasteful drumming of Dan McNaulty, The Valery Trails are assisted by Morgan Hann on Keyboards/vocals and the always beautifully voiced Sky Stanford on vocals. A special nod also to the production assistance of Tim Stweard of Screamfeeder/We All Want To. Whether you like it delicate and beautiful or mired in a heavier swamp of psychedelia, The Valery Trails stretch out to scratch just about every pop candy itch.
With a name that may be easy to overlook in the "mono"-filled world of stoner rock (think Monolord, Monobrow), Monocluster make sure you remember the music. 5 tracks of simply sublime stoner rock with massive space rock tendencies, Monocluster stake a rightful claim to the throne of plodding, sludy goodness. "Dante's Inferno" is appropriately epic, kicking off with an immediately hooking mutated bass line. The song piles on the massive riffs and partly-swallowed vocals to blissful effect. But where some stoner bands lose themselves solely in the riff, the Monocluster lads maintain a tight focus on moving the song forward, rooted in structure and, dare I say it, melody. Then, just when you think you got it all figured out, the band drop it all off the map and veer perfectly into the cosmos via an effect laden passage of intricate space rock, swirling guitars, mid-tempo explorations of sound and noise. But have no fear, the thunderous assault can't be stopped and the familiar riffs come roaring back before song's end. Truly, one of my favorite songs from the genre all year. And that's just the beginning. A album of grace, cosmic energy and power. A "Mono" not to be missed.
Believe it or not, I'd never heard Radio Moscow before this disc was dropped onto my desk by postman Sal. Sure, I'd heard of the band, but had no idea what all the fuss was about. Now I get. Based upon the incindiary guitar histrionics of Parker Griggs, Radio Moscow pick up the mantel of the long-lost Jimi Hendrix and haul it kicking and screaming into the new milenia. Griggs' fingers fly across the fretboard leaving smoking trails in their wake, fire shooting down the metal strings before rocketing off into the spacey vortex. Effect laden guitar mania for the masses with a jaw-dropping effect. Like any good guitar God, Griggs surrounds himself with a dynamite rhythm section, Anthony Meier on bass and Paul Marrone on drums, to hold the pocket for his six-string explorations and fill the gaps. In truth, songwriting and vocals aren't the point here, rather the focus is entirely on the Griggs' fingers and to which heights he can bring those reverberating six strings. If you're looking for tight songs or memorable earworms, you'd be best searching elsewhere, but if a madman armed with six strings of mayhem is your bag, look no further, your guitar hero has arrived.